Playwright Tommy Jamerson brings masterclass to campus


Ian Stewart

Students and theater faculty members engaging in Tommy Jamerson’s master class.

The Columbia Theatre’s new resident playwright Tommy Jamerson taught a master class centered around playwriting in the Student Union Annex on Oct. 11 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Students had the opportunity to learn practical tips and advice from Jamerson about the playwriting profession, along with hearing about his career.

Jamerson graduated from Indiana State University with a bachelor of science in theater with a concentration in playwriting and an MFA in playwriting from the University of New Orleans. He has written numerous plays over the course of his career and many of his shows for children have been performed all over the world. One of the biggest lessons that he has learned and one that he taught to the class is that of being your own cheerleader.

“Nobody is going to push for you as much as you will. When I was first starting out making connections, I thought that was all I had to do, but I had to learn that I need to keep reaching out and putting myself out there,” Jamerson said. 

Tommy Jamerson discussing playwrighting during his masterclass in the Student Union Annex. (Ian Stewart )

The main points of the class revolved around making yourself and your work be known to the world and finding opportunities in any part of the theater industry available to them. Jamerson talked about working a variety of jobs to stay financially stable while still keeping his creative pursuits on hand. 

Freshman theater major Mara Monticino found the advice from the class to be informative and helpful to her creative interests. 

“I do enjoy writing, so I felt that learning more about playwriting is very fundamental to what I want to do. I’m definitely more into acting, but I feel playwriting would be very fun and interesting to try,” said Monticino.

Freshman theater major Brianne Leedy also saw this class as something that could help broaden her knowledge of the theater industry. 

“Even though I’m focused more on directing, I feel that expanding my premise of all the different aspects of theater including the technical side,” Leedy said.

As the Columbia’s resident playwright, Jamerson has recently written a new adaptation of “Th Jungle Book” for the theater and is very optimistic about his new role. 

“The Jungle Book” will be performing from Nov. 11-19 and tickets are currently on sale on the Columbia’s website or through a call with the box office.

“Every playwright dreams of having a theater they can call home and to develop their shows, even ones who are on Broadway like having a place where they can try things out. I’ve been so fortunate to work with Jim Winter for over a decade and he has always been helping to fine tune my skills,” said Jamerson.

Another project that Jamerson has been asked to work on include a possible adaptation of one Brendan Deneen’s “Baby Groot” children’s books.